Dear Parents, Friends, Staff and Students of Caroline Chisholm College,
I am writing to you from the Year 11 Retreat at Benedict XVI Centre in Grose Vale. If you went to a Catholic school you probably have very fond memories of going on retreat in your senior years. I know that, when I meet students I taught decades ago they are keen to recall the experience of being on retreat and the impact that special time had on them. I can already tell that our students will take with them powerful memories of being valued and of challenging themselves to look beyond the shallow view of the world. I hope that I am around in decades time to have these young people tell me what a profound effect this time had on them. The purpose of this retreat is to help the students rediscover their uniqueness and their giftedness, and to allow them to appreciate how much they are loved by God. This sacred time, we hope, will inspire them to nurture a relationship with Jesus as disciples and people of the Gospel. It may take years for them to realise for themselves the great gift of faith, and to really understand how a world view based on love is actually a radical way of approaching life. I am so very grateful to the many staff who leave their families to come away with the students, particularly Ms Murray, Miss White, Mrs Vella and Mr MacNamara who share responsibility for organising and running the retreats. We hope and pray that the gifts the students identify while on retreat will be shared for the benefit of the whole community.
Our Year 12 students have begun their HSC examinations, and I am delighted with the mature and committed way they are approaching this very challenging task. Prior to the first exam in Week 1, I spoke to the girls and reminded them that they are not the sum total of their exam marks. They are not their ATAR rank. They are, in fact, unique individuals, friends, daughters, sisters and this experience is only one part of their blessed lives. Many of the students I have spoken to after the exams have expressed a mixture of relief and satisfaction and we are looking forward to hearing about their achievements when the results are released in December. Please continue to pray for our Year 12s. Many don’t finish their exams until later in November.
In these first few weeks of Term 4 we have launched our academic acceleration program for our current Year 9 students. Twenty-eight students are undertaking a very challenging inquiry task this term to see if they qualify to begin their HSC while in Year 10 in 2 unit Studies of Religion. If they are successful, they will have the opportunity to complete two units of their HSC while still in Year 11. Every student who was asked to consider this pattern of study have put themselves forward for the inquiry task this term, and I am sure they will thrive in this program, as it is designed to stretch their thinking and their abilities, ready for Year 11 and 12. If it is successful, we hope to offer this program to students in the future, towards the end of Year 9.
Our Wright House Initiative is National Breast Cancer Foundation. Our assembly last Friday, hosted by Mrs Simpson and the Science faculty, took place in a very pink assembly area, featured fascinating experiments from Mr Rapley, and a very moving talk by Ms Colman about her own experience with breast cancer. Her talk was deeply moving and I value her contribution to the students and staff. If your child is affected by a family member’s serious illness, can I encourage you to let her homeroom teacher or year leader know, as we can provide support and assistance while she is at school. Let us pray for all families in our community who are struggling with cancer, or who are supporting a family member with cancer. It is a devastating disease, and the impacts are felt far and wide.
A Litany for Healing
We pray for those who are now ill.
Source of Life, we pray: Heal them.
We pray for those who are affected by illness, anguish and pain.
God of Love, we pray, heal them.
Grant courage to those whose bodies, are weakened by illness and the pain of illness.
Grant strength and compassion to families and friends who give their loving care, support and help to overcome despair.
Grant wisdom to those who probe the deepest complexities of your world as they labour in the search for treatment and cures.
Grant clarity of vision and strength of purpose to the leaders of our institutions and our government. May they be moved to act with justice and compassion and find the courage to overcome fear and hatred.
Guide them and bless us all.
We ask this prayer through Christ, Our Lord.
Mr Greg Elliott